Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Gingrich calls child labor laws “stupid”

Newt Gingrich says child labor laws are “stupid” and that children should not have to wait until they are 14 to get a real job and go to work.  View Newt’s comments about child labor laws below or at this link: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/election-2012/post/gingrich-calls-child-labor-laws-truly-stupid/2011/11/21/gIQAFYKHiN_blog.html

Newt proposes to take the country back to some very dark days when children could and were exploited for profit.  For example, in 1913, before the passage of national child labor laws more than 2 million children under the age of twelve worked in American factories.  They suffered three times the rate of accidents as adults possibly because they were almost always sleep deprived, so much so that foreman could keep them awake only by dousing them with cold water.   Children working in the textile mills suffered from respiratory conditions so serious that they were twice as likely to die before the age of twenty as other children were.  The few states that had adopted child labor laws rarely enforced them so employers generally ignored the laws.  Anyway, in most cases the only proof of age the laws required employers to obtain was an affidavit from the child’s parents who were usually so desperate for the meager wages their children could earn that they would lie.

Watch this video from the History Channel or click this link: http://www.history.com/videos/the-fight-to-end-child-labor#the-fight-to-end-child-labor

Also see this video, a look at child labor in the early 20th century in the United States as represented through the photography of Lewis W. Hine.  Watch below or at this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_tY1gk6J6zc

And see more of Hine’s photos here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rDN3X-WORI4&feature=related

It wasn’t until 1941, when the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the Fair Labor Standards Act that the federal government was finally able to set age limits and limit the types of jobs that children could perform.   See a history of child labor laws here: http://yale.edu/ynhti/curriculum/units/2004/1/04.01.08.x.html

Today The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) sets 14 as the minimum age for most non-agricultural work. However, at any age, youth may deliver newspapers; perform in radio, television, movie, or theatrical productions; work in businesses owned by their parents (except in mining, manufacturing or hazardous jobs); and perform babysitting or perform minor chores around a private home. Also, at any age, youth may be employed as homeworkers to gather evergreens and make evergreen wreaths.  Different age requirements apply to the employment of youth in agriculture.  See: http://www.dol.gov/elaws/faq/esa/flsa/026.htm

The FLSA restrictions on child labor constitute a reasonable effort by the federal government to protect America’s children regardless of economic status.  They are not “stupid” as Newt believes.  They are moral, ethical, and responsible.  They are American.  Like so many other times, Newt Gingrich is wrong, very wrong.  He doesn’t deserve to be president of anything, much less the United States.

If you think Newt is wrong, if you believe child labor laws are not “stupid,” but are, in fact, a very good thing then write Newt and tell him exactly what you think.  Contact him here: http://www.newt.org/contact

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